A publisher refused to republish a popular child book because they were not allowed to replace the word “negro” with a word more political correct. The book was published first time 1953 and then the word “negro” was the commonly used word for a person with dark skin.
These things are controversial. Should you rewrite something without the original writer’s content? Even the beloved Astrid Lindgren used the word “negro”. Texts reflect the culture in which they were written. Should you change them just because the values have changed?
When it comes to books and other media meant for children I say: definitely.
I have an old song book that both my parent’s had when they were kid. They still re-publish it with the same content, just because it is classic.
In it there are several songs about spanking children that are not nice and quiet, child labour and who good it feels to work hard. And the use of the word “nigger”.
When I sing and read for my children I transfer values. I can’t sing a song about a “nigger” and then explain that they should never ever use that word.
I have some old child books where they spank their children, which I have had trouble with because they are written in verse. It’s not just to rephrase.
Of course I have explained that in the old days parents thought that spanking was good but that we know better these days, but it’s no fun reading about a child being on an adventure just to get home and get spanked. History and cultural reflections of their time may be, but I would not mind a pro rewrote those verses.
My oldest son sang a song about a year ago which included “you should be quiet and nice” and “you are not allowed to be angry”. I got upset and tried to find the origin of these very old fashioned ideas. But the song was nowhere to be found (and he didn’t dare sing it again after my reaction). He had made the song himself, as it turned out, based on verses in those old books I had read.